Michael R. Ward is co-chair of the firm’s Intellectual Property Practice Group and chair of the firm’s Patent Practice Group. Dr. Ward is the founder of the firm’s plant intellectual property practice. Dr. Ward is also a founder of the firm’s biofuels practice. He has focused on intellectual property law since 1992, with a concentration on patent law and life science. Dr. Ward’s practice consists of preparing and prosecuting international life science patent applications, performing patent due diligence, development and management of patent portfolios, counseling clients regarding patent infringement and validity issues and assisting in patent litigation, and patent licensing, patent re-examination, and patent interference work.
Dr. Ward works closely with members of the licensing group both in the U.S. and outside the U.S. on patent licensing issues. Dr. Ward has assisted on patent and licensing issues for a variety of biotechnology, clean technology, ag biotech, and pharmaceutical companies on a broad range of transactions, including inbound and outbound licensing, drug discovery and development deals, joint research and development collaborations, manufacture and supply arrangements, distribution and reseller relationships, co-marketing agreements, outsourcing projects, strategic joint ventures and mergers and acquisitions.
Dr. Ward has managed numerous intellectual property diligences for venture capitalists seeking to invest in early and mid stage companies, underwriters involved in IPOs and companies seeking to acquire or merge with other companies. Representative clients include Kleiner Perkins Caulfield & Byers, Frazier Healthcare Ventures, Alta Partners, and W.R. Hambrecht + Co. Dr. Ward’s IP diligence work includes assessment of the strength and weakness of patent portfolios, evaluation of freedom to operate issues and strategic recommendations for maximizing value of patent portfolios going forward.
Dr. Ward works closely with a number of life science clients to develop and manage their patent portfolios. Dr. Ward works with clients to identify, monitor and assess the infringement risks of third-party patents. Dr. Ward assists clients in preparing both offensive and defensive patent portfolios with a particular emphasis on drafting patent applications that will be utilized in licensing and in litigation efforts. Representative clients include the University of California, Berkeley, University of California, Davis, Mendel Biotechnology Inc., Calistoga Pharmaceuticals, The California Table Grape Commission, Expression Diagnostics Inc., Novartis, Arcadia Biosciences, Bio Architechture Lab, Catchlight Energy LLC, Clorox, Progeny Advanced Genetics, and Dole Fresh Foods.
Dr. Ward works closely with Morrison & Foerster’s IP Litigation group on various litigation matters. Such work includes patent interference work to determine the first-to-invent and patent re-examination work. Dr. Ward also actively participates in both mediation and arbitration proceedings on behalf of clients in the life sciences area. Dr. Ward is a member of the steering committee of the firm’s Clean Technology + Renewable Energy practice. In this capacity, Dr. Ward assists in coordinating much of the firm’s clean technology patent work. Such work includes IP diligence and strategic patent counseling for clean technology companies and investors. Dr. Ward has led IP diligence efforts regarding solar power and biofuels. Representative firm clients in this area include Arcadia BioSciences, Mendel Biotechnology, and Kleiner Perkins Caulfield & Byers.
As the founder of the firm’s Plant Intellectual Property group, Dr. Ward manages a wide range of intellectual property issues related to plants and plant products. The Plant Intellectual Property Group encompasses a unique combination of legal expertise regarding patent, licensing, trademark, and litigation related to plants. The group has extensive experience in preparing and obtaining plant and utility patents for plants, Plant Variety Protection (PVP) Certificates and International Plant Breeders Rights Certificates, advising and counseling clients regarding the handling of trademarks and varietal denominations in the context of plants and plant products, drafting and negotiating licensing agreements related to plant intellectual property and counseling clients regarding litigating plant intellectual property cases in State Court, Federal Court, and the International Trade Commission.
Dr. Ward holds a Ph.D. in plant physiology (biochemistry) and an M.S. in agronomy from the University of California, Davis, a B.S. in biology from the University of California Berkeley, and a J.D. from Golden Gate University School of Law. He was a post-doctoral fellow in molecular biology at the Harvard Medical School and the Department of Molecular Biology at Massachusetts General Hospital where he worked on the Arabidopsis genome project.
Dr. Ward is a frequent lecturer and speaker. Dr. Ward recently spoke at The Biology and Business of Biofuels conference hosted by the University of California San Diego, San Diego Center for Molecular Agriculture and the UCSD Environment and Sustainability Initiative on “IP Barriers and Protection of the IP Space.”